The Big ballet is coming up in early April. How did you get involved in that?
I was at a fundraiser in Atlanta with my Big Kidz foundation, that’s my non-profit organization to get inner-city kids prepared for the future. John McFall, (the Artistic Director) from Atlanta Ballet, was there. We were talking about the idea. He was like, ‘Hey, man, how would you feel if we did a collaboration and we interpreted and danced to your music?’ I was like, ‘Let’s see what it sounds like.’ The next step was we met with the choreographer Laurie at the studio and we went through our catalogue to choose the songs.
How important is it for you to expose kids to something like ballet, something a lot of kids might not check out on their own?
It’s all exposing them to different things and about content and information, giving them the information and really the experience of just trying new things. You can never say never. You never know until you try it. Some things are an experiment and some things you plan out. You just have to keep your mind open.
How involved did you get in the production of Big?
All the way with the music. I was walking through it with my live band. It sounds crazy! I was just picking out the songs, man, and the movements, and just interpreting how I feel what they’re doing. It’s just been a great collaboration, man. We were like mad scientists trying to come up with an idea. It’s very moving.
Does having a live band give you more energy as a performer?
It feels better. It feels free-flowing. It’s not the same because they can switch it up and play it any kind of way they want to. I’ve really just been vibing with the band and creating what we call funk.
How did you choose the songs that would be performed?
We were just in the studio and just listening. I was with Laurie and John. I actually played them some of the new music from my new record. It’s ridiculous what they did to my music on the dance tip.
Have you always been interested in ballet or did Atlanta Ballet catch you off-guard when they approached you about doing a ballet inspired by your music?
It was both. Song and dance, they go together and it’s about expressing emotion through dance. The choreographer, Laurie, just, from what she felt, she was like my interpreter and she just put it together. It’s very, very powerful.
You’ve never really talked about your nonprofit organization Big Kidz. Why was it so important to you to start your Big Kidz foundation?
My thing is as a young boy, I was kind of exposed to different people who gave me different ideas and different ways of thinking. I learned stuff early and it’s like an each one, teach one kind of thing. You have to learn how to get the kids’ minds open and have them analyze things before they make decisions and have them understand that certain paths might lead to this and certain paths might lead to that. You just have to let them know what’s going on and let them be them.
I don’t get press releases about Big Kidz or your charitable works. It doesn’t seem like you’re doing this for the publicity.
No, no. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I’m telling the story of it. When I do things, I don’t call the news channel or call whoever to come out and cover it. It’s for the people who are there. It’s from the heart and it’s not for exposure. It’s for the kids and the families and making sure they walk away with something.
As an MC, your sound has always been ahead of the game. How would you define your sound today?
I’m definitely still a student perfecting my craft. I feel like it’s on some Jedi shit right now. I started off as a young Luke Skywalker and was learning and learning and now it’s like second nature to me. I’m loving the music and loving when I’m hearing something new that’s going to make me feel good or make me think a new way. You just have to create that new jam. That’s what it’s all about.
How’s your new album Sir Lucious Leftfoot coming?
Oh, Sir Lucious Leftfoot is almost complete. It’s going to be about 13 cuts. It’s banging. The first single out right now is with Raekwon and in honor of 2000 it’s called “Royal Flush”. The response from that has been great. The people are loving it. I got production from Organized Noize and Mr. DJ. Royal Flush is a new company that I have producing with me with Boom Boom Productions. They actually produced “Royal Flush”. It’s just really about keeping it funky, man. That’s what you have to do, Brian.
Me and Mary J. Blige did a duet. I think the world has to check it out. It’s called “The World is Too Big”. It’s all coming soon, man. It’s coming out in July. Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty is what’s happening.
How will Sir Lucious Leftfoot compare to your first solo album Speakerboxxx?
I’m not trying to make it different from that. It’s just that I’m in a different place right now.
How did you, Andre 3000 and Raekwon come together on “Royal Flush”?
Raekwon, that’s my guy, man. He actually lives out here in Atlanta now. He came to the studio and we actually cut a couple of records together. He’s always been on my list of lyricists because he’s been killing it. He came through the studio and camped out and Andre heard the record and he wanted to get on that one. There you have it.
You and Rae have always sounded so good. Is that just a natural chemistry?
Exactly, man. He’s a cool dude. I actually produced a song for him on his new record. He’s very talented, man. He’s got a lot of ideas and that’s just my dog. He’s real down to earth. He came through for us on “Skew It On the Bar-B” and he came through again.
Are you and Andre 3000 working on a new Outkast album?
Yeah. Actually my album is coming out in July and Dre’s album is coming out in the winter and in that time we’re working on that new Outkast album that’s coming out next year.
Have you started recording for that album?
Oh yeah. We’re just kind of picking out different beats and things like that.
How’s it coming so far?
It’s coming good. It’s just a process right now. When we come together we bring each other our ideas. I’ll bring a new beat and ask Andre what he thinks and we just start vibing.
What kind of direction do you want to take the new album in?
It’s all about how you’re feeling and as long as you get that feeling across. We have not just one style of Outkast. There are no boundaries. We’re influenced by everything and we listen to all types of music. You’re going to hear that in all of our music. And the beats have to be hitting. That’s your backup.
Does it ever bother you when fans say they want you to return to the sound of previous albums like Aquemini?
Nah, not really. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Everybody is entitled to that but there’s no looking back for us. It’s only looking forward. It all depends what the beat brings out and what the song is about.
How has your chemistry with Andre 3000 changed over the years?
We’ve just both gotten sharper, really. We love making music and branching out and trying new stuff. We got in the movie thing and that was fun. It’s really about being who you can be. That’s my brother.
On “Royal Flush” you mention that you want to impeach the president. Where do you stand on the upcoming election?
We need some new ideas and we need somebody who’s going to get in there and make a change, straight up.
Are you endorsing anyone?
I’m going to run with the best one for the gig. I don’t know. I just want to see something new and give somebody else a shot again.
So you haven’t made a decision yet?
I made my decision already. Who’s your candidate? (laughs)
I like Obama so far.
Yeah, the whole world does. See, we got something in common.
No doubt. How involved do you get with other artists in the Dungeon Family today?
When we get together, we still vibe and we still put things together. I got Khujo Goodie on this album and I got Big Gipp on the album. I got Backbone. I got production from Organized Noize. It’s the fam all the way. All of the way!
Did you ever think Cee-Lo would blow up like he did as a member of Gnarls Barkley?
Yes, from the minute I heard “Crazy”. The feeling that song has, it could change your life. The feeling that that song had, it had so much emotion and so much feeling in it. From the first time I heard it, I played it all night long on repeat until the next day. I was just proud of my dog for making that song and I was just proud of the music that was driving it. It was a great song that the world felt.
Will we see a Big Boi and Cee-Lo collaboration in the future?
Yeah. I’m trying to get him on this album as soon as he comes back in town. I got a song I’m trying to do with him. You’ll probably see that. Cee-Lo’s always been on the Outkast records and that’s my dog, man. And the Gnarls Barkley album is out right now. Go get that!
Is Slimm Calhoun still rapping?
I think he’s working on material out here. He’s getting back out here on his grind. He’s been coming to the studio. Whenever he brings it to me, I’m ready to hear it.
Are you and Killer Mike on good terms today?
Well, I’m on good terms with everybody. It’s all about positive energy. It ain’t nothing. I wish him all the best.
Where do you want to take Big Kidz in the future?
I have a couple of different projects I’m working on now. I’m working on a state-of-the-art playground where the kids can go out and get some exercise and get them computer literate too. I want to get them sharper on the information superhighway so they can kind of pick and choose what they want to experience and just really expose them to a lot of different things. It’s all about positive energy and giving back.
What’s the next move for Big Boi?
Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty, the album, coming in July. It’s 13 tracks. Check it out!